Sunday Bag o’ Blessings

blessing bagI took the motorcycle out for a putt early this morning. I wanted breakfast, and I wanted to be home before it got hot. I rode curvy back roads to Vail, then cut back into Tucson. Along the way I considered several restaurant options, finally settling on an IHOP. There were lots of good local restaurants along the way, but I didn’t want to put up with squalid one-holer restrooms. Not that I anticipated visiting the loo, but if I did I didn’t want to wait in line. Thus IHOP (or Denny’s, or a Village Inn): nice clean restrooms.

Maybe that’s the wrong criterion. Yes, IHOP has nice restrooms, but when I asked my server for a small tomato juice she said they no longer serve it, just apple and orange juice. When I went up front to pay, there was a long line and only a single cashier. The woman at the head of the line was monopolizing the cashier, trying to get a conversation going with her. The people behind her were becoming impatient and pushy. I took my place in line behind them, wishing I’d gone to Viv’s on the corner near our house. The ride was nice, though. Fifty miles on good roads with no traffic, home before most people are even up.

Polly’s here, doing her laundry. The job she got a month ago hasn’t started yet. She says they’re waiting for background check results. I think they’re stringing her along. It’s equally possible she’s stringing us along. We ganged up on her and got her to put in an application at Ace Hardware, where she worked before. I don’t know who’s paying her rent. It’s not us. When this shoe drops, I fear the thump will be loud indeed.

Then I think of friends who are parents our age, and their son, and count our blessings. Fifteen years ago the son, then 18, underwent serious brain surgery. He’d suffered debilitating epileptic seizures all his life and was barely getting through school, even on the special education track. Having the damaged portion of his brain removed and letting it “rewire” itself seemed the best option, but imagine the agony he and his family went through, wondering if they were doing the right thing, wondering what the consequences might be.

It was a leap of faith. It worked. The seizures stopped and he began to learn to learn again. Though he’d always need some degree of support to finish school and hold down a job, his family had the resources to give him that support, and he began to get back on track.

About ten years ago, he shit the bed at a really good job his father had helped him get. I don’t know the details, but from the hints his parents gave us it sounded like he went on a rage at work. More training, eventually another job, then a place of his own to live and a car, the family there to fall back on when needed, and things got back to normal. Four or five years ago he had additional brain surgery. I don’t know what happened to prompt that. A month ago, he had some kind of neurological episode. This time he checked himself into hospital. His medications were adjusted and he went back to work. Then, last Wednesday, he had a stroke while he was driving and smashed into a tree. The stroke is affecting one side of his brain. The accident damaged the other. He’s in a trauma center ICU. They can’t treat the stroke with blood-thinners because he’s still bleeding on the car wreck side. Although he’s beginning to respond to commands he’s unable to talk. He’s still in his early 30s.

We’ve known him and his parents since he was in junior high, well before the first brain surgery. We haven’t seen his parents much over the past two or three years, but we stay in touch with him. A couple of years ago he asked me about joining the Air Force. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that with his medical history he didn’t stand a chance of getting in. His optimism could be heartbreaking, as it was then. Other times he’d be down in the dumps. Our daughter Polly, also one of his close friends, alternates between peaks and valleys, though they’re slightly less extreme.

Our first reaction to news of the stroke, the additional brain damage, and the gloomy prognosis was hey, at least his mom and dad were able to give him 15 good years and a shot at a normal life. Then we remembered the setbacks he’s suffered during those years. Okay, then, they gave him some good years. What would his life had been like if he’d never had neurosurgery in the first place? For all we know he’d still be struggling to finish high school, and would have been living at home all this time. He would not have wanted that.

No one knows what will happen now. With his rewired brain, it’s impossible to predict how his recovery will proceed, or to what extent. We’ll hope for the best. The young man has a lot of folks looking out for him, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, we’re counting our blessings.

© 2017, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


1 comment to Sunday Bag o’ Blessings

  • BURT

    As to the IHOP toilet, what a first world problem! What you benefited by their restroom you paid for in waiting in line to pay and not being able to get what you wanted. Next time go local and hold your breath.

    I sympathize with your friends and their son having had some experience with getting your brain rewired. The problem is you never really know what the outcome is going to be. Even an educated guess can be hard to make. It’s likely that had he never had the original neurosurgery he’d be dead by now. All you can really do is breath deep and make the leap of faith that’s required. I hope things work out for him and his family. Thanks for posting.

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